To many people, the word smudge may have a variety of meanings. To the Native American people, it has a very special meaning.

People who smudge daily are cleansing themselves. The practice of smudging has been a part of the Native American culture for centuries. The smudging ceremony can be closely related to a Catholic who goes to confession. Just as the Catholic confesses his or her sins and starts fresh, the Native American basi­cally does the same thing when he or she performs a smudge. The smudge is done to ask for forgiveness.

When smudging, a person will bring the smoke to his or her eyes, ears, mouth, and heart. In doing this, the person is asking the Creator to let him or her see good things, hear good things, speak good things, and feel good things in his or her heart. This practice is usually done daily, in the morning, but it is not limit­ed to just that time. There may be times a person is around negative energy, and he or she may smudge to protect himself or herself from being affected by all the negative energy.

Smudging is a wonderful part of the Native American tradition. The most important part of all this is that a person doesn’t have to wait until Sunday to be cleansed and to start fresh.

Winona St. Claire is a freshman student at Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She lives in Belcourt with her parents. Her love of reading led her to writing.

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